The Gig: Christian Hansen CD release show with D.B. Buxton and
Where: The Garrison, Toronto, Ontario
When: Friday 16 November 2012
In One Word: Quirky
On Friday night, I headed to The Garrison for the first time to check out a couple of bands. Starting off, I caught a brief glimpse of The Fires of Cheektowaga, a new Toronto rock three-piece whose music is a bit hard to pin down following what was a five song debut. A bit light on vocals, or maybe just a bit shy of the microphone, Fires of Cheekotwaga were agreeable enough in the moment. A virgin band trying to find their feet – if they can lay down a couple of catchy hooks and they will be on their way. As Music Vice’s new German writer Markus Büssecker might say: “Big fires can start from small matches”.
Edmontonian D.B. Buxton opened with a gritty Tom Waits-esque song in some pants that were rather … revealing in the crotchal region. His act was bare bones in a good way – just a guitar and a cymbal and a microphone and what he kept referring to as the “dirtiest amp” he had ever played with. Needless to say, although I do genuinely admire a man who can command a stage solo, jokes about him having the balls to do so were way too easy.
The internet tells me that D.B. Buxton left home at age fourteen and was a street performer for many years, garnering an impressive amount of attention as a young busker. He has also contributed to the music and arts scene in Vancouver and Edmonton with a number of different projects over the past decade, but I won’t simply reiterate the biography from his website. You can check out his music and history here.
Distracting pants aside, Buxton definitely has the dexterous fingers, the foot tap, the raspy wail and the velvet jacket of a rock star. However, his stage presence seemed a bit forced or awkward at times. And many of the crowd were distracted or disinterested by the middle of his set – [or disgusted, in the case of our Editor in his reaction to some “criminal karaoke” with a cover of Iggy Pop’s “Search And Destroy”]. I can’t help but think that his one-man show might be better appreciated if one were to serendipitously pass him in his zone on the sidewalk and stop for an unexpectedly awesome show. Case in point:
Next up was Christian Hansen’s launch of their new album, C’mon Arizona. The band is comprised of the lovely Molly Flood on keyboards and vocals, and Christian Hansen – equally captivating in a floral print shirt – also on keyboards and vocals. These married folks also originally hail from Edmonton, but moved to Toronto in 2011. We heard a robust cheer go up from the crowd when they mentioned their Prairie roots, since there is apparently a growing Edmonton Mafia in Toronto.
Christian Hansen dove right into a sound that was a swift departure from Buxton’s guitar riffs. Think effervescent electro-disco beats with pleasing man-vocals (and the occasional lady-vocals) layered over top. They had me hooked with their opening song, which featured poppy drumbeats, simple keyboard chords, and Christian crooning the best lyrics ever: “Shut up and die.” I appreciated the tongue-in-cheek morbidity. The jaunty-sounding “You, Me, Him and Us” is actually a heartfelt plea about a guy not wanting a ménage a trios. And the title track, “C’mon Arizona,” sounds a bit like The Strokes, which no one should complain about. Hell, they even have a song called “Cocaine Trade,” which is exactly what you expect it to be.
Their clear love for performing their music reminded me of when I saw Diamond Rings at SappyFest in the summer of 2010. Before he was on the cover of every magazine as Toronto’s newest musical/gay darling, he was still just a really tall guy wearing makeup and a basketball jersey and rocking out on his keyboard with wild abandon. Christian Hansen is a band like that – they were dancing so hard on stage that it made your head hurt to watch them, and shouting lyrics that poked fun at everything, especially themselves. Molly Flood even leapt from the stage at one point to the dance floor to spin in her black glittery skirt, as if she couldn’t hold in her joy. You can check out their music (or buy C’mon Arizona) here. Or watch the video for another catchy song, “Ma-Me-O”.
I appreciate quirky irreverence in a band, and this pair has it in spades.
© Amy Fox, Music Vice
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